BEST IN SHOW: A Melanie Travis Mystery
This is Agatha and Macavity nominee Berenson's 10th charming canine cozy (after 2002's Hot Dog) to feature Melanie Travis, the poodle breeder and devoted "mom" to black Standards Faith and Eve. Melanie leaves her seven-year-old son, Davey, and dog, Faith, with her ex-husband while she travels with Eve to the Poodle Club of America National Specialty dog show in Maryland. Melanie's Aunt Peg, who runs the show, directs her to work with two eccentric sisters from Georgia who look alike, dress alike and finish each other's sentences "like a pair of bickering bookends." When one of them falls on a hotel porch and is fatally injured, it looks like an accident—at first. For all the engaging human characters, including dog handlers, breeders, show officials, trimmers and owners, the dogs, in all sizes, colors and ages, provide the most fun. Carried along by crisp dialogue, the story occasionally bogs down in "doggy" details, but even the uninitiated should find these interesting and informative. The arrival of Melanie's "almost fiancé" at the end will leave readers hoping that the two will set up dog breeding together by the next book. (Sept. 2)
Forecast:With 15 champions to her credit, the author breeds and exhibits Standard and Miniature poodles, doing her own grooming, trimming and handling. Confusion with the 2000 film comedy of the same title can't hurt.